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Rob built Ford tough: Smokes the crack, takes the hits and keeps on hangin’ in there

Toronto mayor Rob Ford has spent the last few days in the public confessional, first with his regular Sunday morning radio show (with his sidekick brother Doug, a Toronto councillor) admitting on-air he had made a few “mistakes” since being elected mayor in 2010. “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not a drug addict,” Ford said on yet another talk radio interview the same day. “If I had a problem, I’d be the first one to say I’m not fit to run the city.” Dogged by (at the time) the alleged existence of a cell phone video of him apparently smoking something from a pipe, Ford has steadfastly denied the existence of said video or that he had smoked crack.

But all that changed Tuesday as Ford, in an apparent casual media scrum, decided to share and admit that he had indeed, sometime in the last year, smoked crack. Ford told  the assembled media that he was “ashamed” but felt like “1,000 pounds have been lifted off my shoulders.” (This would be a good thing for Ford’s knees, which have been relieved of a significant amount of metaphorical weight, at least.) “But, no — do I? Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago,” Ford added.” It is said that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Ford sort of admits he does. Still using the modifier “probably” is not exactly a flat out opening of a vein.

Still, Ford must have found this public confesssion somewhat cleansing. A poll conducted after his initial, partial aplogy found his approval rating up four points from 39 percent. No doubt the polling boys are cocked and ready to poll another 1,000 Torontonians to guage their reaction to the latest drama. Mind you, that same poll also found 60 percent  thought Ford should resign. Which I find kind of confusing. And Ford has one year left in his mandate and, for now, says he will not resign and will run again. He may have off-loaded 1,000 pounds of anxiety but still his track record as mayor threatens to rival the current odour lingering at Montreal City Hall and its environs.

The web site Gawker.com, which raised $200,000 to buy the Ford crack video and The Toronto Star, which broke the hard copy story, must now be feeling vindicated by the video’s existence, which is now in police custody. Alas, Rob was not that contrite Tuesday, after months of denying the video even existed. He told reporters he hadn’t been lying when they previously asked him about it. “So, I wasn’t lying. You (the media) didn’t ask the right questions.” Just when you thought Ford was on the road to recovery.

Though Ford is an easy target, he can play some hardball city politics. Toronto city councillor Jaye Robinson was a member of the mayor’s executive committee as the chair of the community and recreation development committee. At least she was…until she urged Ford to take leave of absence earlier on in this sad saga. And his bro, Doug, has called for the resignation of Toronto police chief, Bill Blair, for being too poltically involved. Whether the electorate of Toronto continue to put up with this kind of political thuggery remains to be seen. They have a year or so to think about it. Ford will continue to feel the heat from city council, not mention Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne who said she was “concerned about the huge amount of turmoil at city hall.” Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay weighed in, saying Ford”needs to get help.”

Sounds like an intervention to me.

Some visuals and links:

  1. Rob Ford has been the target of US TV (and radio) hosts like Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Arsenio Hall and Howard Stern. On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Ford continues to provide fodder for the show. His latest on Ford from November 4, 2013:   http://torontoist.com/2013/11/watch-jon-stewart-mock-mayor-rob-ford-again/
  2. Link to Rob Ford confession:   http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/ID/2416144782/

 

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